Winter Olympics: Malkin scores 2, Russia reaches hockey quarters
AP Hockey Writer
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Evgeni Malkin scored twice and Russia bounced back from a shootout loss to Slovakia, beating the Czech Republic 4-2 Sunday to reach the Olympic hockey quarterfinals.
In a rematch of the 1998 Olympic gold-medal game, won 1-0 by the Czechs, Russia scored in every period to claim the top spot in Group B with seven points.
Malkin gave Russia (2-0-1-0) a 1-0 lead in the first and pushed it to 3-1 in the third after a huge hit by teammate Alex Ovechkin freed the puck at center ice.
Viktor Kozlov also scored for Russia, and Pavel Datsyuk added an empty-netter off assists from Ovechkin and Malkin with 12.3 seconds remaining.
Tomas Plekanec and Milan Michalek had goals for the Czechs (2-0-0-1), .
San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves for the win. Czech counterpart Tomas Vokoun of Florida stopped 27 shots.
Ovechkin, playing on a new line with Washington Capitals teammate Alexander Semin and Malkin, assisted on the first goal and then rocked Canada Hockey Place with a crushing hit on Jaromir Jagr. Jagr, who on Saturday called Ovechkin the best player in the world, circled with the puck and was leveled when Ovechkin caught him high with his arm. Semin found Malkin in the right circle for the goal at 1:49.
Michalek converted Marek Zidlicky's pass in front to cut the Czech deficit to 3-2 with 5:09 left.
The Czechs, who got the best of Russia four years ago in Turin, Italy, when they won bronze, will have to wait until the end of the Super Sunday tripleheader to find out if they will have to play in the qualification round. The three group winners and a wild card earn byes.
Kozlov, a longtime NHL forward now playing in Russia, took a bouncing pass from Alexander Radulov in the slot and slapped a shot behind his back that caught Vokoun as he was shifting left and slid under the goalie's glove with 5:26 left in the second to make it 2-1.
The game was nearly tied again just more than a minute later when a close shot by Jagr bounced around the crease and was briefly covered by Nabokov. The whistle blew before the puck entered the net.
Russia sustained a double hit when Radulov boarded David Krejci but drove the Czech forward into teammate Sergei Zinovyev, whose left leg was bent under him.
The teams traded power-play goals in the first period, in which Russia held a 12-5 shots advantage.
Russia seemed to have more energy early, knowing it needed to win in regulation to win Group B. The Czechs played with the cushion of needing only to reach overtime to secure a bye.
After a holding call against Jagr, Malkin took advantage with his second of the tournament. Vokoun made a strong save on Ovechkin, but Malkin fired a shot while dropping to one knee at the bottom edge of the right circle and sneaked the puck under the goalie's arm to make it 1-0 with 4:47 left.
Jagr uncharacteristically protested the penalty on his way to the box and when he got out. He received no satisfaction from either referee, and one of them gave him a dismissive wave.
Russia went 1 for 2 on first-period power plays, and the goal was its second in 15 chances.
The Czechs received a pair of favorable calls 13 seconds apart for a 5-on-3 advantage. The second penalty, a questionable tripping infraction against Sergei Fedorov had Ovechkin and the rest of the Russian bench up and howling at the officials.
Tomas Kaberle popped up a pass that Datsyuk missed with a stick swipe over his head. Patrik Elias nudged the puck to Plekanec, who settled it in the left circle and squeezed a shot inside the right post to tie it at 19:06.
Ovechkin had an active first period as he played his high energy style. He absorbed a double check from Elias and defenseman Pavel Kubina that crunched him against the glass and then was denied by Vokoun during a breakaway. Once on the bench, Ovechkin took off his helmet and doused his head with water.
NOTES: Czech coach Vladimir Ruzicka captained the 1998 team that won Olympic gold. His Russian counterpart Vyacheslav Bykov also earned a gold medal as a player in 1988 (Soviet Union) and 1992 (Unified team).